Tag: Shelly Laurenston

Guest Review: The Undoing by Shelly Laurenston

Posted April 7, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Undoing by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Jen
The Undoing by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Call of Crows #2
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A risk worth taking…

No one would ever accuse Jace Berisha of having an easy life—considering her husband…you know…killed her. But that was then! Now she fights for mighty Viking gods with the spectacular and vicious Crows.

But things are turning very bad, very quickly because a vengeful, ancient goddess has come into the world with just one thing on her mind—ending it. And the only way they can hope to stop her is if the Crows join forces with their one-time enemies, the Protectors. A Viking Clan created to do nothing but kill every Crow they see.

Thankfully, Protector Ski Eriksen is a peace loving kind of guy. Because the woman he is desperately trying to get close to is the beautiful and not-very-chatty Jace. Battling Nordic clans? Unkillable goddesses? Jace’s mean-spirited dog? None of these things would ever get in the way of a true Viking!

The second in the Call of Crows series, The Undoing, was as much fun as I was hoping it would be!

This book takes us back to the world of the Crows, an all-female bunch of murderous assassins brought back to life to serve the goddess Skuld. The heroine this time is Jace, the Crows’ resident berserker who becomes uncontrollable when a rage takes hold, but is painfully quiet and introverted the rest of the time. When Danski “Ski” Eriksen hires her for some translation work, it’s no hardship as he is intrigued by and attracted to her. Ski is from the Viking Protector clan. The Protectors are basically the librarians and archivists and nerdy weirdos of the Nordic world, and Jace is totally down with that! Unlike her sister Crows, the Protectors are quiet and revere books and learning (though they can still kick ass in a fight!). Jace and her puppy immediately fit in with the Protectors, and the job gives Jace a new purpose. Unfortunately, strange things start happening in the world, and it becomes clear that the evil Gullveig the Crows thought they defeated in Book 1 is still there and plotting to end the world. It looks like the clans are going to have to work together to end the threat.

Jace is such a great heroine. She HATES commotion and constant chatter, so living in a giant house full of the loudest, chatteriest women around is not easy for her. It was so adorable to see her fit in with the Protectors, who could happily sit reading all day long in silence. During one scene that had me cry-laughing, Jace actually jumps out of a moving car just to avoid small talk with Ski! Now THAT’S introverted. When she opens up to Ski about her life before the Crows, you realize how horrible her history is and why it would make her the way she is, though. She has a hidden strength that even her sister Crows don’t all recognize.

And let’s talk about Ski, because he’s pretty yummy too. Unlike his fellow Protectors, he actually has to get out of the house and deal with others, so he’s developed way more people and life skills than any of them. But he still can comfortably communicate with his introverted, quiet, nerdy brothers, which is what makes him the perfect match for Jace. He doesn’t talk down to her or patronize her–he too loves talking about books and history and all kinds of trivia, and he uses that as a bridge to make her more comfortable. Plus he wears glasses and has hot Viking sexxxing abilities. What’s not to love? As in Book 1, the romance is not the focus–it shares billing with a bunch of other storylines. Because of Jace’s past and because of her introversion, she and Ski move a little slow at first, but once they get together they are such a lovely team. 

The larger story arc about Gullveig and her attempts to bring Ragnarok are exciting and I am 100% hooked. (There’s no cliffhanger, but the larger storyline is not resolved yet.) We actually get to meet some of the gods here and it’s hilarious, like Odin (who has a thing for strippers with huge boobs) and Thor (who is a whiny, insecure manchild). I love Laurenston’s take on these familiar characters.

This was a very funny and very enjoyable read.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Reading Order:

The Unleashing
The Undoing


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Guest Review: The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston

Posted April 22, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

The Unleashing by Shelly LaurenstonJen’s review of The Unleashing (Call of Crows #1) by Shelly Laurenston

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

Until recently, I’d never been much of a paranormal reader, but in an effort to branch out I’ve been reading, and enjoying, more PNRs. I’m not an expert in the sub-genre, but I had heard very good things about Shelly Laurenston. When I saw she had a new series out I decided to give it a shot. Wow, am I glad I did because I loved this book.

This is a complicated story, partly because it’s doing the world building for the series, which is based on Nordic mythology. (The author’s note at the beginning explains she based it all on real stories but gave them her own twist.) The heroine is Kera Watson, former Marine and recently murdered coffee shop employee. Yep, before the book even opens Kera is murdered, but she has been brought back to life to become a member of the all-female Crows. The Crows are one of the Viking clans serving the Nordic gods, and they are the only ones who are made, not born, into their clan. The sister-Crows, as they call themselves, are loud, opinionated, antagonistic, and very violent, but smart, loyal, and totally hilarious. (No really!) Crows are basically the assassins, called in when their patron goddess Skuld needs somebody killed. As a former Marine and protector, Kera struggles to accept this new role and the world she knew nothing about, and she struggles to get along with the rowdy and disorganized Crows. Fortunately, she has help in the form of Ludvig Rundstrom (Vig). He is a member of the Ravens, which is an all-male Viking clan of fighters and protectors. He teaches her about their world and helps her learn the skills she needs to thrive. Everyone is put to a test when an ancient evil gets resurrected, and Kera must learn to accept her Crow role so she can help defend the world.

I love so much about this book, but my favorite thing is that it is very, very funny. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud so much while reading a book. When it started, though, I was worried it wasn’t the book for me. It is incredibly violent, which isn’t normally my style. The Crows are mean and obnoxious, and I just kept thinking that Kera was in a yucky, impossible situation. But after a while, I realized that the violence is so over-the-top that it has a dark humor. And the horrible jerky Crows end up revealing themselves to be complicated but ultimately loyal friends. They are crass, rude, and bloodthirsty (seriously, stay away if you’re easily offended), but, again, hilarious. Here’s an example from a conversation some of the Crows have after Kera gets into a fight with her mentor, Erin:

“You kicked her in the cunt. Trust me, the last thing that girl wants is some Viking pounding away on top of her.”

With everyone starting at her and looking disgusted, Erin reminded them, “There’s always anal.”

That’s when they all walked away from her, leaving her alone in the room.

I also loved the relationship between Vig and Kera. Vig is freaking adorable. As Kera discovers, he actually had a crush on her for months and had been visiting her coffee shop just to see her, but he was so massively shy that he never worked up the nerve to talk to her. He has a reputation among the clans as being frightening and fierce and one of the most brutal warriors around, and he is…on the battlefield. But outside of battle, he’s shy and awkward and sweet, like a gentle, bearded, sexy giant. The romance is lovely, but it’s not the most important thing in the book either. Kera’s journey (and the world building) is equally important, and she’s a wonderful character. She’s described as being of mixed race, as are many of the Crows. She’s a warrior, but she also has strong principles. I enjoyed seeing her learn about the world and learn to depend on her sister-Crows.

Honestly, it is just so COOL to have a series centered around a group of female warriors. As I said above, I don’t read tons of PNR so maybe there are some other great examples out there (and if so, tell me in the comments!), but most of what I’ve read has been about groups of men. It’s great to see a group of women being the violent, ass-kicking ones for a change. The Crows aren’t sweet and loving–they’re tough, they’re harsh, but they’d die for each other. They make no apologies for being assassins, and while they don’t kill indiscriminately, they aren’t exactly “good guys” because they work for gods/goddesses that aren’t clearly “good” either. It’s fun and interesting and I want more!

The book isn’t perfect. There are some instances where it felt like rules in the world were bent only when convenient. Some parts feel a bit info-dumpy, though I overlooked it because this is a complex world and there’s a lot to learn. It was hard to keep all the names and relationships straight, and I expect it will take several books before it’s fleshed out. Still, it’s been a long time since I enjoyed a book as much as I did this one, and I can’t wait to read the future installments.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Kensington. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston

Posted March 21, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bite Me by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Tracy
Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Pride series #9
Published by Kensington Books
Publication Date: March 25th 2014
Genres: Humorous, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots. When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life's irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad's untimely and unexplained demise.

That's where Vic Barinov comes in--or his house does. Vic can't step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he'll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge. . .

Vic Barinov – tiger/bear hybrid shifter – has been given an assignment to help find a man by the name of Frankie Whitlan. He is wanted for a ton of crimes but the shifter protection agencies have been told to back off finding this man. As Vic works freelance he doesn’t have to follow those dictates. He uses his friend, Livy, who is a Honey Badger shifter, and comes from a family of thieves, to get into Whitlan’s daughters apartment to see if they can find a lead on Whitlan. What Livy finds is her father, shifted into his honey badger form, stuffed.

Livy is livid and determined to take down the man who did this to her father. She recruits her entire family and Vic and they go after Whitlan. While all of that is going on Vic and Livy, who have been friends for a while, get closer…start sleeping together…and then fall in love.

That seems like such a basic description of the book but the real story is Livy, Vic and her family. They’re so crazy it’s amusing to read about them. Livy is kind of what you would think of as an anti-heroine when you imagine a romance novel. She’s brash, rough, tough, foul-mouthed, doesn’t like to be touched randomly, and hates to be nice to people. She’s an independent soul and an artist. Vic is kind and caring, soft spoken (for the most part) and a really good guy. Put these two together, let Vic’s tiger side come out and they’re hot, sexy and explosive together. They’re so opposite but they get along so well and I loved the pairing. You truly have to appreciate Laurenston’s humor in this one as it’s definitely sarcasm at its best.

Livy and Vic are really just part of the books equation. Add in her crazy (and I do mean CRAZY) family, Vic’s friend Shen, characters from previous books and it all adds up to one hell of an entertaining story.

This is one I’m very happy that I didn’t miss out on and one I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Shelly Laurenston


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What I Read Last Week

Posted March 3, 2014 by Tracy in Features | 1 Comment


How ya’ll doin’? Did you have a great weekend? I hope so.

My week last week was pretty quiet, if I remember correctly. My life has been pretty boring lately – I have to say I enjoy that sometimes. lol

My girls played in their bell choir this past Sunday – 2 pieces. Here are the videos if you’re interested. I think they’re both doing a wonderful job and they love playing, which I love. 

(My girls are..second from the left and 5th from the left.) 


(My girls are on the left table 1st and second from the right.)


Ok, on to what I read this past week:

I started off the week with A Lady by Any Other Name by Jennifer Kitchens. This story is about a young woman running from her evil brother when he promises her in marriage to an old disgusting man. On his deathbed her father had told her that he wasn’t her real father and gave her clues as to who the real father was. Nicole figures it out and goes to talk to her real fathers family hoping that they’ll take her in. What she finds is unexpected but then she’s sent to London to wait for proof of her parents marriage. She then falls in love with the man she’s staying with. The story was good if not a bit too busy – too many story lines floating about. The romance happened quickly with the hero and heroine going from what looked like 2 people who might have an attraction for each other to “I love you.” I just didn’t think they were at that point yet. Anyway the story still worked which was good. 3.25 out of 5

The Blind Wolf boxed set by Aubrey Rose is 4 stories following the romance and lives of Julia and Damien. Damien is a wolf shifter and finds out that Julia is his mate – but she’s full human which never happens. The story unfolds from there. Though not romance heavy it could get very emotional at times. I’ll post my review of this one this week. 3.5 out of 5

Disarm: The Complete Novel by June Gray was originally a serial. This is actually all 6 stories in the serial wrapped up in one and I’m so glad I read it this way. The story is a friends to lovers story involving Elsie and Henry. They finally get together after many years of friendship but then have to face Henry’s deployment to Afghanistan and Henry’s personality change when he returns. There’s a whole lot more that goes on and it was definitely worth reading. I’ll post my review of this one this week. 4 out of 5

Next was The Devil Wears Kilts by Suzanne Enoch. This is the first in a new series called Scandalous Highlanders. Ranulf is a highlander and proud to be one. He ends up chasing his 18 year old runaway sister to London when he refuses to let her have a Season. The family she stays with has an older daughter, Charlotte, who Ranulf is highly attracted to. Unfortunately Ranulf’s mother was English and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Ranulf has prejudices against the English but Charlotte puts him in his place. The story is about the pair working out their differences as Charlotte abhors violence and Ranulf lives with it daily and thinks it’s ok. Ranulf decides to change his thinking but he’s not sure if it’s enough to capture Charlotte’s heart. It was a great story and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. 4 out of 5

Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston is the story of Livy Kowalski, a Honey Badger shifter, and Vic Barinov, a hybrid shifter that is half bear and half tiger. Livy’s father is found dead and had obviously been murdered. Livy and her family decide that the person behind it all needs to pay. While this is happening Livy and Vic, who were friends before, start sleeping together which ends up turning to love. There’s a whole lot that goes on and it all wrapped up into a great story. I’ll post my review for this one later this month. 4 out of 5 

Last for the week was A Night With the Bride by Kate McKinley. This is the 3rd book in the By Invitation Only series. The story involves Nicholas, a duke who has basically been in seclusion and is thought to be mad, and Gabriella. Gabriella takes on a dare with her friends that she can get the duke to kiss her. It turns into so much more. I’ll post my review of this novella later this week. 4 out of 5


My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Everybody’s Got A Story by Heather Wardell  

Happy Reading!

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What I Read Last Week

Posted June 13, 2011 by Tracy in Features | 8 Comments

Good morning!
Not much happened this past week until Saturday when some of the So Cal Bloggers got together. Wendy, Renee, Nikki, Judith and I met at Renee’s house and then moved over to the Covina Bookstore. For an independent bookstore it had a great romance section. We then went for lunch and then over to Barnes and Noble to check out their shelves. It was a lot of fun and always wonderful to see friends and talk BOOKS! lol I got some great recommendations from Renee and bought a book from a new-to-me author (whose name I can’t remember at the moment. lol). Here we are outside if B & N.
Diet and Exercise – Oy it’s gone to the dogs completely. I’m starting again today with being diligent about the exercise and eating right. I did get on the scale and am up a bit. I had lost a total of 4 pound – which has now only 2.4 *sigh* ah well – just goes to show I can’t fall off the wagon. This proves that left to my own devices I will eat the house. lol
Reading…(if only I was as good about exercise as I was about reading! lol)…it was a good week. I read some good stuff:
First up was Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston. I really like Laurenston’s heroine’s and the men who love them. This story was about Dee-Ann who is one bad ass mofo who you do not want to mess with. Restaurant owner Ric wants nothing more than to mess with her in many different ways. The book is a combination of Rick and Dee-Ann’s relationship, a story of Dee-Ann and 2 others working on a case for The Unit that involves a dog-fighting type setup only with hybrids and a small story of Ric’s father who’s a complete bastard. It was a good story but I had some issues with it. You can read my review over at The Book Binge if you’re interested. 3.5 out of 5
Next was the novella Unlocked by Courtney Milan. What a great story! Evan had a thing for Lady Elaine Warren and wanted him to notice her. He went about it all wrong, however, and ended up making her someone that was laughed at and ridiculed and ended up making him feel like a horrible person. Evan leaves and doesn’t return for 10 years. He’s become a completely different person and would like nothing more than Elaine to forgive him. He knows this isn’t possible but it doesn’t stop him from trying. Such a great novella. Smexy’s review of this book is what got me hooked. 4.5 out of 5
More Than Words Volume 7 by Carly Phillips, Donna Hill and Jill Shalvis is a Harlequin anthology that has stories that are based on amazing women. Three really good stories make up this anthology and it’s just a fun romantic book. You can read my review here. 4 out of 5
Kathry, the Kitten by Lavinia Kent was my next read. This is a novella that starts The Real Duchesses of London series. This was the story of the Kathryn, the Duchess of Harrington, who seems to have the perfect life except she doesn’t actually sleep with her husband any longer. She loves him and wants him back in her bed. She asks a friend for help but there are many other things happening that Kathryn doesn’t know about. This was a great little novella and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll post a review next week. 4 out of 5 (This is an Avon Impulse that releases on the 28th of this month)
After that I went on a little Anne Brooke spree with the Delaneys. I started off with The Delaneys and Me which is a story about Liam who breaks up with his boyfriend and says some things that put his ex-boyfriends cousins (The Delaneys who are crime bosses) hackles up. He knows he has to pay for what he’s said and what the Delaneys come up with is scary but doable. They tell him that he can get his balls shot off or have sex with them. Yeah, which one do you think he chose? lol This was a short story (35 pages) that was so cute. I really liked the writing and the humor in the story was right up my alley. Yes there are twins in the story but no twincest. 4 out of 5
Next was Entertaining the Delaneys by Anne Brooke. The twins are contacting Liam a few weeks after their first encounter and want Liam to entertain one of their guests. He’s up for it as long as the twins are involved. Again, a funny story that’s quite short (also 35 pages) and pretty darned hot. Same fun humor as the first story which I love. 4 out of 5
The third story in the Delaney series (so far) was The Art of the Delaneys by Anne Brooke. In this story (42 pages) Liam and his boss are helping the Delaneys with a little art scam their running. The twins and Liam get up to a little fun in the gallery and make some decisions about their strange but compelling relationship. Another cute story and I can’t wait to read what’s up next with the threesome. 3.75 out of 5
My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was Seducing the Duchess by Ashley March. The story is about a duke who kidnaps his own wife. You see he married her for revenge and when she found out – the day after he wedding 3 years earlier – she decided to do everything she could to force the duke into divorcing her. She wasn’t actually as bad as rumor had it and despite her dislike of duke she couldn’t stop loving him. He’s decided he loves his wife and wants her back and with him only. I liked the story a lot but had some issues with the heroine. She wanted her freedom from the duke but it was because of the situation, at least that’s how I was reading it. But when they express their love for each other and he says he won’t divorce her she’s upset that she won’t have her freedom. Why would she still want it? 3.75 out of 5
Getting Off the Ground by LA Witt was a great novella that I very much enjoyed. Elliot is at the airport in Seattle waiting for the planes to get off the ground and in a freak blizzard. He’s going on his honeymoon to Hawaii by himself after he was stood up at the altar. He meets Derek in the airport who’s also heading to Hawaii but he lives on the islands. Derek and Elliot get to know each other and end up spending the night in a hotel room together that’s just amazing. But then it had to end because they’re going different places – or does it? I was little leery of Derek and Elliot’s getting together – even for a night – because of Elliot having just come out of this very long relationship where he was prepared to marry his partner. As the story moves on Witt explained Elliot and his ex-partners relationship in a way that I could accept Derek and Elliot together. I have the next book in the series or I might have been upset at the ending which was a bit abrupt. I’ll dig into book 2 this week. 4 out of 5
Collide by Megan Hart was my next read and it was so good! This book comes out on the 21st and I recommend it. The story of a woman who has the hots for an ex-independent film star-turned-artist-turned-gallery owner but he seems to not want to have anything to do with her. Then she starts having hallucinations about the man but it’s when he was 30 years younger. I’ll post my review this week and tell you more. 4.25 out of 5
Last on the list was a short novella I read for The Book Binge called When, Were and Howl by Jeanette Raleigh. This was the story of a woman who is a shifter but she turns into a mouse when she shifts – the rest of her family are wolf shifters – talk about different. She’s got it bad for her wolf shifter boss and wants more than anything to be able to shift to something besides a mouse. She gets an amulet that allows her to shift into a wolf but then she can’t get back to human. Is it all she’d hoped it would be? It was a cute story but left me hanging at the end of the story which I didn’t care for. I’ll probably read the next novelette just so I can see what happened! 3 out of 5
My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Happy Reading!

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